Ontario introduces free nasal spray flu vaccine for children

flu shotsOntario is now offering parents more choice in helping to protect their children and youth against the flu with a free nasal spray flu vaccine.

Starting on October 26, nasal spray flu vaccine will be available for children and youth aged two to 17 as an alternative to an injection in the arm.

“Quadrivalent influenza vaccines aim to give broader protection against potentially circulating flu viruses by protecting against a second B-strain virus, which evidence shows is more likely to affect children and youth. Since it can take up to two weeks to build immunity, I am urging young people to plan to get the shot or nasal spray as soon as it’s available”, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The nasal spray flu vaccine will help offer broader protection against four flu viruses instead of three. The added protection comes against an additional B-strain of the flu virus, which affects children and youth more frequently than adults.

Parents still have the option to vaccinate their children using an injection. The new injection for children and youth aged six months to 17 years will also protect against the same four flu viruses as the new nasal spray.

The flu vaccine for adults will remain available in an injectable form, with protection against the three flu viruses most likely to circulate during the flu season.

Flu germs from sneezes can travel up to six feet, and the flu can live on surfaces for up to eight hours. Ten to 20 per cent of Canadians get sick with the flu every year. It is estimated that 12,200 people are hospitalized and about 3,500 die.

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